Google fails in appeal over ticket resale ad ban

Featured image credit: Anthony Choren on Unsplash

Google has failed in its appeal against an order prohibiting the purchasing of ads promoting tickets sold by unauthorised secondary ticketing platforms in France.

The search engine giant, which was attempting to reverse a decision made in favour of Prodiss in 2020, was also ordered to pay the music industry trade union €300,000 in damages at the Paris Court of Appeals.

The ruling confirms that Google France and Google Ireland – the home of Google’s European headquarters – must prohibit the hosting of advertisements in France from resale marketplaces such as Viagogo, StubHub and Rocket Ticket that do not have authorisation from event organisers, as outlined in French law since 2012.

The judges confirmed the first judgment of the Paris Court of Justice of October 2020 which had held that “by providing the Google Ads advertising service, which is separate from its search engine, to professionals who offer show tickets for sale without the authorisation of their producer or organiser, Google Ireland has assumed liability with regard to these producers and organisers represented by the Prodiss union”.

In a statement, Malika Séguineau, chief executive of Prodiss, said: “This is a landmark decision for us. We are very pleased that the court of appeal has ruled in favour of protecting the rights of the producers and the rights of the audience. After several previous decisions against illegal platforms over the last years, this is another step in the right direction to ensure a fair, safe, and legal process for ticket sales in France.”

Opponents of the resale market hope the ruling will prevent operators in France from gaining prominent placings on Google searches. Many have observed that marketplaces such as Viagogo often appear above official ticket listings on searches.

Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) welcomed the decision, noting that when Google imposed a brief ban on advertising from Viagogo in 2019, visits to the operator’s UK website fell by almost 80% and visits to the global site went down by nearly two-thirds.

Sam Shemtob, director of FEAT, added: “This is a big win for those of us who want to see tickets in the hands of fans and not sold on by price-gouging touts. Rightfully, a lot of fans’ anger gets focussed on the resale platforms themselves, but Google is a major player in steering people away from face value tickets sold by the primary seller, even when there are still tickets available. The clearer Google’s role becomes for all to see, the better.”

Posted in LegalTagged | |